SINGAPORE - The Law Society last night made clear that Mr M. Ravi's suspension has nothing to do with his announcement to stand for election, his political views or the clients he represents.
It came after a video showing the lawyer making a scene at the society's headquarters surfaced on YouTube yesterday.
The 43-year-old was told on Tuesday that he must stop practising and have his medical condition, bipolar disorder, examined by his psychiatrist. The society would then consider the medical report before any decision to allow him to resume practice.
Its president, Senior Counsel Thio Shen Yi, told The Straits Times: "The council's decision to issue a direction to Mr M. Ravi to temporarily cease practice is based solely on the council's concerns that the present state of Mr Ravi's mental condition impairs his fitness to practise law."
After he was notified, Mr Ravi went to the society's premises with three others to hand over his letter of response to a staff member.
The scene was captured in a 12-minute YouTube video and showed the lawyer claiming that his suspension was triggered by his bid to stand for election. He also mentioned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and was followed by a woman holding a placard that read "Stop persecution of M. Ravi". At one point, she prevented a staff member from leaving the South Bridge Road premises until Mr Ravi intervened.
It is understood the Law Society is aware of the video but is unable to comment due to ongoing investigations.
"The Law Society is an independent body and does not engage in assisting or hindering any of its members in any political aspirations they may have," said Mr Thio.
"The council owes a duty to the public and to its members to ensure that all practising lawyers in Singapore are not impaired by any physical or mental condition which affects their fitness to practise."
Mr Thio said the society considered a range of legal options based on the information available.
"Council could have pursued more drastic measures but we felt that this direction to Mr Ravi, to cease practice pending a medical examination, best balances the interests of Mr Ravi's clients, the integrity of the legal profession and Mr Ravi himself. In particular, council took into account the consideration that, subject to Mr Ravi satisfactorily addressing the issues that he faces, this option could allow him to continue practising law."
Mr Ravi told The Straits Times yesterday that he would seek to challenge the Law Society's move in court through an application for judicial review.
A medical report which he attached showed that he was reviewed by senior consultant psychiatrist M. Winslow on Feb 2 - the day he held a press conference to announce he would challenge PM Lee in Ang Mo Kio GRC in the next election.
Dr Winslow's review showed he was in a "hypomanic" phase of his bipolar disorder. During this phase, the sufferer is understood to feel or act abnormally happy, energetic or irritable.
In his medical report, Dr Winslow said: "I would like to have had him in hospital under observation, however he is not agreeable at this time and has promised to take adequate rest and follow up with all medications."
Dr Winslow gave him medical leave until Feb 6, when he appeared in the High Court to represent a client in an appeal. In the case, Mr Ravi alleged that the judge had breached his duty and he would refer the matter to the Chief Justice.
This article was first published on February 11, 2015.
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